I’m taking this course on The Wisdom Tradition in Christianity through CAC, Richard Rohr’s org. It’s taught be Cynthia Bourgeault. She’s brilliant in a very down to earth way.
So we’re on the part called Symeon’s 3 Modes Of Prayer And Attention. Symeon was a theologian who lived 1,000 years ago. Symeon contends, and Cynthia explains, that there 3 ways to pray:
1.) Freedom from all cares, good AND bad;
2.) Your conscience needs to be clear in all things;
3.) And this is where I hit a roadblock… A complete absence of passionate attachment.
Now, here’s what’s at stake: you can’t live the Beatitudes, as Jesus laid them out on the Sermon on the Mount, if you can’t do those three things. Live them actually.
Well, this is an area of great shortcoming for me. I haven’t been able to figure it out for years. It has to do w a Social Justice issue I was deeply involved with from 1996 to 2013. I’m still involved in a supportive way, but then I was in all the way. I did not have “a complete absence of passionate attachment” as Cynthia said. It was the opposite. And so, as Cynthia also pointed out, I got burned out. I mean crossing a line into depression and anxiety burned out. That was in 2013. I had to separate myself from it to survive. Which I deeply regretted. And I knew it was a personal failure at the time, and still feel that way. Not because I couldn’t solve the SJ issue (although I did harbor a desire to do SOMEthing about it), but because I couldn’t resolve MY issue. Which was attachment to an outcome which I judged should occur.
I’ve spent a good deal of time and energy since then, studying Buddhism among other philosophies, to try to figure out what happened to me. Buddhism talks a lot about equanimity. When I read about it I think “that would be nice to have”. But I’ve never been able to figure out a path to it. I mean I’m better than I used to be but I’m still stuck in that paradigm of right/wrong/good/evil on this particular issue. The injustice is so great, and the power differential is so huge, that it’s been impossible for me to get out of that paradigm.
I think Cynthia points a way to do that. It won’t be easy for me, but it might be possible. I haven’t found anything else that is even remotely possible so this is news to me. I mean as a purported Christian if I can’t live the Beatitudes, I’m not sure I qualify as one. That’s what’s at stake.
Symeon talks about having freedom from all cares – good AND bad; having a clear consciousness in all things; and a complete absence of passionate attachment, as I said. I have failed in all 3 on this particular issue. Still do. I can’t get away from a dualistic way to see it, because it’s so unfair. Anyway there’s tons of SJ issues like that. They’re all unfair, unjust, even despicable sometimes. What are we to do?
But this is not about that issue, it’s about MY issue. I really like what she said: “If you can make all cares into one care, the care for simply being present, you will be cared for by that presence.” Whoa, that’s a seminal statement. That’s like a fundamental rule of living. That’s equanimity. I can see that now. I just have to figure out how to change my heart to truly believe it, and then live into it. It’s a path though. One I can see. Maybe one I can do. We shall see.